Everyone I know hates popups.  They always make me think of that old whack-a-mole game.  People find them annoying, intrusive, repetitive and obnoxious. An exit intent popup are just another flavour.

Funny thing is, they work.

I started using them on my www.tincancanucks.com book website a couple of weeks ago when I released a sample chapter for download.  Most of my traffic is driven by AdWords and tends to be new rather than returning at the moment.  As a test, I set up a download page on the website for the sample chapter PDF and created an exit intent popup via Convify—an online service which you can integrate with your website.

Exit Intent Popup: How it Works

The way it works is that when someone comes to my homepage (or any other page in the website), when they go to close the browser window (or take another action that show’s they intend on exiting the site) this is intercepted with a popup:

Exit Intent Popup for Tin-Can Canucks

Exit Intent Popup for Tin-Can Canucks

They can click through to the download page, or they can click on “No Thanks” and then exit the site.  There are a lot of ways to configure this exit intent behavior—you can trigger it based on time, number of pages visited, new vs. returning visitors etc.—and in my case I have it configured to show only once a day for any given visitor; that reduces the annoying factor to a reasonable amount I think.

Convify provides conversion metrics (it’s part of a larger digital marketing platform it looks like), and so far, in two weeks I’ve seen a 1% conversion rate.  For a site with fairly small traffic this seems okay to me, and I’m not seeing anything indicating I’m driving traffic away—and the thing with an exit intent popup is that the visitor was leaving anyway, so it’s not likely to raise the exit rate, and even if it reduces my return visitor rate, at the moment that’s pretty small to begin with.

Fundamentally, this is no different from marketing automation gateway forms—in this case I’m not looking for personal information, and so may generate a higher conversion rate than if I was using a gateway form to capture contact info before the download.

And like gateway forms, it works—it drives conversions.  In a marketing automation system, we can track these conversions and score the interactions.  Like a gateway form an exit intent form is another tool in the marketing automation toolbox.

So, in my experience (anecdotal though it may be) I’m seeing increased visitor engagement, which is what I’m looking for for this site.  The popup’s configuration to make it less annoying is a crucial part of its value though, and I think makes the difference between engagement and annoyance.

Exit Intent Popup: Roll Your Own

Now, if you want to use an Exit Intent popup yourself there’s no need to go with a service like Convify—especially if you already have a marketing automation platform.  The ActiveConversion software for instance, will track goal page and URL-specific campaigns, and so can be used to track conversion from clicks in a popup.  While the software doesn’t provide the capability to create the popups, that’s to be expected since it’s not a content management tool, and for those with a little jQuery experience, there’s an excellent tutorial for creating exit intent popups with jQuery which can be found here: http://beeker.io/exit-intent-popup-script-tutorial

Now some may ask: do I still find exit intent popups annoying?

Yes, yes I do.

Perhaps I’m a hypocrite for using them, but the facts are they work—even on me, and I’m one cynical digital marketer.

Like I said, I believe the critical part is to make them as engaging as possible with as little annoyance impact as possible.  In my case above, I’m engaging the visitor with some interesting, useful content—promising the full story about the post-war RCN in the downloadable PDF.  I’m asking them for an additional moment of their time—a couple more clicks—if they’re interested in the content.

And if not?  My apologies for the annoyance.

Cheers,

Sean